Harry got to the restaurant in Delray Beach at ten to one, a little early. He wasn’t going to have a drink, had made up his mind driving here; but as soon as he was seated he ordered a vodka and tonic and paid the waiter. He’d have one, that’s all. It was nice here on the terrace, watching people going by, like a sidewalk caf'e. One-fifteen Harry ordered another drink and told the waiter to run a tab. He got the drink and took it inside with him to the pay phone, where he dialed Bobby Deo’s number in Miami Beach and got no answer, no recorded message. He walked out to the terrace among the Friday afternoon lunch crowd and sat down at the table in the shade where he’d left his cigarettes and change. He talked to the waiter for a couple of minutes about this and that, ordered a double Absolut on the rocks with a twist, and watched a girl holding a deck of cards pausing at tables to say a few words, but not having any luck until she came to a woman seated near Harry. The woman, wearing quite a lot of makeup, gold-framed sunglasses and earrings, asked the girl to sit down. Harry heard the woman say she was sick and tired of customers acting bitchy, throwing their credit cards, treating her like a servant. He didn’t hear the girl’s voice until she said, “The Eight of Swords. Yes, there’s a lot going on you feel you have to put up with, more than you think you can handle.” The girl speaking slowly, with kind of a southern accent. “So, let’s see. The Ace of Wands. You don’t feel you’re getting anywhere, but you’ve learned a lot about yourself. Isn’t that true?” The woman said something Harry couldn’t hear. Then the girl’s voice again. “The Prince of Swords reversed. Hmmmm.” She said, “Well, you’re not afraid to take on challenges,” and something about a painful situation that hadn’t been resolved. “The Three of Wands. Hmmmm, now I see a past-life connection…” Harry ordered another drink.
At two he tried Bobby Deo again. No answer.
He phoned Joyce. Her message voice came on. He waited and then said to her machine, “I’ve been here over an hour, corner of Atlantic and A1A-or Ocean Boulevard, Ocean Drive, I don’t know, they’re all the same thing-Delray Beach, right? You were there when he phoned, isn’t that what I told you? Said he’d have sixteen five for me. Well, he isn’t here.” Harry was aware he sounded as if he was blaming Joyce. The thing that irritated him, she wasn’t home. But then realized that if she was, she’d ask him how he got to Delray Beach. He’d tell her and she’d jump on him for driving without a license, suspended on account of the DUI, and he’d have to listen to her nag him about it. So it was just as well she wasn’t home and he had to talk to the machine. Jesus. He said, “There’s a girl here with tarot cards going around to the tables. Maybe I should have her tell my fortune. The way things’re going… I don’t know, I’ll call you later.” He returned to his table to find the little girl with the tarot cards waiting for him.
She said, “If you don’t mind my making an observation, I see a lot of confusion and struggle going on inside you.”
A nice-looking girl, dark hair down past her bare shoulders, wearing one of those tube tops, a white one. Harry pulled a chair out for her. As they were both sitting down he said, “Honey, when a guy says he’s gonna meet you to hand over fifteen grand, in cash, and he doesn’t show, there’s a good chance your emotions will be right out there for all to see. You don’t need those cards to tell I’m fairly pissed off-if you’ll pardon my French-though you might take a peek and tell me if I’m ever going to see the son of a bitch again. Roberto Deogracias-I should’ve known better.”
The little girl waited, hands folded on top of her tarot cards. Harry was looking for the waiter as she said, “I saw the confusion in you when you first came in and sat down.”
“Nervous anticipation,” Harry said. “Let’s have a drink.”
“What I perceived,” the girl said, waiting then for Harry to look at her, “was not anticipation, but deep feelings about a choice you have to make. Something to do with unfinished business.”
Harry looked off again saying, “Is that right?” caught the waiter’s eye and raised his hand.
“You’re trying to decide whether or not in the next few weeks you should leave here.”
Harry turned in his seat to face her.
“If you ought to quit your business and go someplace else to live.”
He was staring at her now, this kid calmly looking back at him, her hands folded. He said, “How do you know that?”
“I see you sitting at a sidewalk caf'e. Not like this one or this kind of view.” She gestured to take in the terrace, the street, cars parked at meters, the beach and the Atlantic Ocean out there. “I see an older, more tropical setting. I want to say like on the Mediterranean, the Riviera.”
Harry kept staring at her. “That’s amazing.”
“Am I right?”
Close enough. The Italian Riviera, I have a villa over there near Rapallo, up in the hills above the town.”
The girl said, “But you don’t know if you should go back.”
Harry laid his arms on the edge of the table and hunched over to get closer to her. “Maybe you can tell me what I should do.”
“Well, if you’d like a reading…”
“With the cards?”
“It’s up to you. I’ll be honest, though, I don’t think the cards have any power in themselves. It’s because you touch them-when I ask you to shuffle the cards? Then I get a read off your vibrations. Another way is if I hold something of yours that you own, something personal. Or I touch your hands.”
Harry straightened and pushed his hands toward the center of the table. He saw her smile, her hands moving toward his now, and felt her fingertips.
“How do you know how to do this?”
“I have psychic powers.”
“I mean is it something you learned?”
“You can get better at it,” the girl said, “but you have to be born with some degree of paranormal abilities. When I was just a little girl I’d get pretty intense psychic impressions. It was funny because I thought everyone knew the things about people that I did. Things just come to me, like I see a picture or hear a voice?” She closed her eyes. “I see you at that sidewalk caf'e. Yeah, it’s in Italy, ‘cause I see a sign… You look, well, at peace, like you have everything you want.” Her eyes opened. “And yet you don’t know if you should go back there.”
Harry kept quiet; he watched her close her eyes again. She had nice eyelashes, dark and long, a nice soft mouth.
“The reason you think you ought to go back involves some kind of unfinished business. You own property over there?”
“I leased a villa.”
“What about investments?”
“Over there? I don’t have any.”
“There’re funds involved…”
She paused again, then opened her eyes. “Maybe we should start with why you wanted to live in Italy. The unfinished business doesn’t have to have anything to do with, you know, business. I’m pretty sure, though, it relates to something that happened in the past.”
Harry said, “Well, I was there during the war… You know, you might be right. And I kept going back, thinking about living there someday. But then when I did make the move it was, well, different than I thought it would be.”
“How was it different?”
“For one thing it was winter, a lot colder’n I ever imagined. There were other things, too. The villa’s drafty, hard to heat… The language can be a problem, trying to order in a restaurant…”
The girl said, “So even though there’re good reasons why you don’t want to go back, you still feel the urge.”
“If that makes sense,” Harry said.
“Well, I think this urge,” the girl said, “is caused by the unfinished business you’re not aware of. And the unfinished business, whatever it is, has to do with something that happened in the past.”
Harry thought about it. He shook his head saying, “I don’t know what it could be. Outside of I signed a lease for the villa, paid in advance…”
“When I say ‘in the past,’” the girl said in her quiet tone, looking directly at him, “I don’t mean that time during the war, or on one of the trips you took since then. I’m talking about a soul connection, something you feel strongly about, that took place during one of your past lives.”
Harry said, “Wait,” straightening up a little more, “are we getting into reincarnation here?”
He felt the tips of her fingers move on his hands, touching his knuckles.
She said, “It’s the feeling I get. You don’t have to, you know, believe in it yourself.”
Harry said, “No, go on,” and had to smile. “You see me living in some other time, like maybe hundreds of years ago?”
“It’s not something I actually see. You’re going to have to tell me about it.”
“But I might’ve been a real Italian at one time? Or going way back, like maybe even a Roman?”
She gave him a nice smile with a shrug. “Would you like to find out?”
“If it’s true,” Harry said, “then I might even’ve been somebody, huh? I mean like a well-known figure.”
“It’s possible.” She said, “All we have to do is regress you, take you back to some time in the past and you can tell me about it, who you were, what it was like…”
“How do you do that?”
“I use hypnosis, take you back gradually and you tell me where you are, what’s going on. Have you ever been put under hypnosis before?”
“Not that I can remember.”
She said, “I can’t promise results, but I think you’d be a good subject. Would you like to try it?”
“I’d love to,” Harry said. “But you don’t do it here, do you?”
“No, you’d have to come to my house. I’m just up the road.” She waited.
And Harry said, “Right now?”
“It’s okay with me.”
He watched her get up from the table, this slender girl in her tube top, not much up there, and tight jeans hugging her hips and thighs. She sure didn’t look like a fortune-teller. Now she got a wallet out of her hip pocket, fingered through it and brought out a business card she handed him.
“Here’s the address, it’s on Ramona in Briny Breezes? Three miles up A1A on the right-hand side. If you come to a trailer park you’ve passed it.”
Harry glanced at the business card. He looked up to see the girl waiting.
She said, “It’s a hundred dollars. Is that okay?”
Harry shrugged. “No problem. You take cash? I’m the kind of guy, I like to pay cash for everything, keep it simple. I bought that Caddy out there across the street, the white one? Cadillac Seville, I paid cash for it.”
Now the girl gave him a cute shrug with her shoulders and a smile saying, “Whatever way you like to do it,” and started to walk off.
Harry wondered in that moment if fortune-telling was her only game: if there might be more than getting hypnotized in store for him. He called after her, “Hey, I’m Harry Arno.”
She paused to look back and nod.
Harry watched her walk into the restaurant before he looked at the business card again. Above the address on Ramona in Briny Breezes it said:
Rev. Dawn Navarro
Certified Medium & Spiritualist
From inside the restaurant’s dim light she watched the waiter arrive with Harry Arno’s drink. She watched him take it from the waiter’s hand and drink it down and then stand up to pay his bill, taking cash from his pants pocket, leaving what he owed on the table and picking up her business card, taking time to look at it again.
She came out to the doorway now to watch Harry leave the terrace and cross the street to the white Cadillac he’d paid cash for. When finally he drove off and was through the light at Atlantic Avenue heading north, she turned to the phone on the wall next to her, dropped in a quarter and dialed. After a few moments a voice came on. She said, “Hi, we’re on our way,” and hung up.